Winter at the Mediterranean Sea: an encouragement

This can be winter at the Mediterranean: Cappuccino at a lonely beach …

 

For many people a winter holiday at the Mediterranean Sea is not interesting at all. Either they want to go for winter sports on the more or less snow covered mountains, or directly further away in direction of Asia, Middle America or on the other side of the world, to travel after the summer.

On the other side there are many cheap offers, all-inclusive or just the flights and then you might to consider such a trip. But what do you have to expect and: is a winter trip to the Mediterranean worth it? Here I try to find an answer.

The good news are, that the weather is way warmer than in middle Europe. With a bit luck – sunshine and temperatures around 20 degree. During nights temperatures drop only in exceptional cases to the freezing point. Swimming is then only for the hard-boiled, but to spend the day outside, reading, going for walks or visiting attractions is perfect. Not to mention the incredible calm in comparison to other seasons.

… blooming meadows …

 

With a bit bad luck it can happen, that it rains cats and dogs for several days, maybe even with strong wind. As most of the houses are not built for cold and wet, this can get uncomfortable.

Regarding the weather everything is possible. From days of sunshine with temperatures above 20 degrees to several days of rain showers with strong wind.

The best thing about the mild winter is the blooming nature. The landscapes are green – full with flowers, a blaze of colours, the air is clearer and the clear views can be breathtaking. It is a perfect time to visit attractions, and to be on your own while visiting archaeological sites or other attractions. It is also good for hiking, although not in the mountains – as there will be snow in higher altitudes.

Tips

  • Head far enough in the south, as it might get too cold otherwise. As rule of thumb I would say not more to the north than Rome.
  • The coldest time is usually from mid-December to  end of January. This is also the time with the most rain. North Africa is especially good at this time.

… and a nice fire to warm up.

 

  • Don’t forget warm clothes, fleece, a good raincoat and sturdy shoes
  • Search for an accommodation with heatable rooms. This is going to be the air condition very often, but the main point is to get it a bit warmer.
  • Is there a nice common area in the accommodation, to sit, chat, read or drink a beer in the evening? This is especially nice around a homely open fire in the evenings.

Tu sum it up: For those who want mainly to spend their holiday (sun)bathing at the beach, warmer places would be the better choice. But for all the others it is worth considering.

 

 

Working in the hotel (4) … and why I finally left

In previous parts of this article series I wrote about the highlights of my work, had some thoughts about the joy of working and published an article about the connection between the work in a hotel and the Turkish family. To finish it (at least for the moment), I want to explain why I left this job earlier than foreseen. 

 

The happiness and satisfaction of guests is for me the main criteria during such kind of work. And even if it is turbulent behind the scenes or there are conflicts, it is necessary not to show to the guests anything about that. This is normal and I know it from my years of work in conference management. The more there are conflicts and difficulties behind the scenes, the more energy it costs you to insulate this from the guest, and – which is even more important – at a certain point the behaviour towards the guests is not authentic anymore. The famous smile,  which is not real. People notice this.

Somewhere along the way I realised, that I can transport this attitude less and less credibly towards guests, as I was too much bonded with this “background noise” – while – in the frame of burn-out prevention – I encouraged  to find a satisfying and honest approach to work.

 

And so I decided by mid September, with a heavy heart, to stop the work. For sure it was helpful that I could stay at the house of a dear working colleague and friend, so that I didn’t have to leave the country which I started to love despite all its contradictions.

Altogether I made an experience I would not want to miss. I had a great time with wonderful guests and colleagues at one of the most beautiful places of the world. I’ve learned and seen so much, like I didn’t for a long time. At the same time I am happy, that I left in time to have a positive general impression.

 

 

Working in the hotel (3) – the hotel and the Turkish family – a small tourism sociology side note

 

In the first part of this series of articles I wrote about the highlights of my work, in the second part about the joy of working. Today I continue with some thoughts about the Turkish family and its relevance in hotel business.

The hotel -as temporary home – is a professional led household, where all the guest wishes are fulfilled as soon as possible. In this one week of holiday, you don’t want to take care of anything – no housework. And in a house with mostly women travelling alone this is even more true.

Accordingly it is no coincidence, that hotels are often run as family businesses and many small houses live from the familiar atmosphere. I often heard from guests, that they feel safe like in a family, and the considerable amount of returning guests can be related to that. Also  the management played with  the image of the family business.

Most hotel and restaurant owners, as well as their families and employees (although the boundary is blurred) spend at least six often seven days per week in their business. This does not mean, that there is always something to do. But the presence is important – a kind of stand-by service – because whenever there is something, you have to jump. And in that way working time and leisure time are interleaved. This is very practical for the guests. Not only that there is always someone here, there is also no need to handle to many different faces, with clear persons to speak with and the feeling to be more involved in the family.

It was never easy  for me to spend leisure time in the hotel or during excursions with guests. The “guest radar” is always on – a kind of constant screening, if someone needs help. Neither holiday nor work  – in any case attention. Even when my radar was off, I was still contact person for the guest, and I did’nt like it so much to tell them I am not in charge – because I did not want anyone to wait or to search for the right person.

This experience of the “family” as business model, was despite its shady sides  enriching and valuable. Why I still left earlier than foreseen, is part of the next and last article of this series.

 

Winter at the Lycian coast

Big ships and wild light games – winter at the sea

 

Kış geldi – the winter has come. You can hear it everywhere. The last rain was really strong – and then the temperatures dropped again a few degrees.

Now make even the hardest start to use the ovens in everywhere in the small shops there are eletric heaters although I doubt about their effectiveness. Rubber boots are now an important utensil – minor floodings everywhere.

Even the forest cottage where I established myself, was affected. Suddenly there was a small stream flowing through the house – the young Auf once because a small stream flowed through – the young cat had to examine this with great amazement

It is often cold and windy – and I do not want to go out as much. But then when the sun breaks through a is a bit incredible light and cloud games and the distant view is breathtaking. The sea is wild with high waves and suddenly in all the bays there are large ships, who “park” here  to hide from  wind and weather.

Working in the hotel (2) – Kolay Gelsin – working with joy

 

 

In the first part of this serie about my time in a small turkish hotel I described my personal highlights of this period. This article focus. Today it’s about the attitude that I have tried to incorporate into my daily work.

My dear colleague D. has told me about a Turkish proverb. Kolay Gelsin – literally translated as “May it come easily.” In everyday life, this would mean something like “Keep up the good Work”. However this saying encouraged me to let the work come easy. Besides enjoying working this means for me to get into a certain workflow, where one job goes smoothly and logically to the next.

And they were there, the many beautiful moments. Not only to the activities, which I had the opportunity to accompany, but also in the hotel at the front desk, when there was just a good mood. And even with not so great activities – such as creating the transfer or cleaning lists, I came quite often in a certain flow, because I also wanted that all the guests were picked up at the right time and their rooms were ready on time. The thought of the results can therefore also provide quite joyful moments.

The ability to find joy in your work – and here especially in the service sector, and even more in tourism, is – I believe – a “stone”, which kills severals birds at a time. At first it is just a better feeling which makes you secondly more credible towards guests. When I go to work and I really like to take care of my guests, the result will be even better. And thirdly, that makes the guests more satisfied and that’s the point in the end. The circle is then closed by the fact that satisfied customers give positive feedback, and not just the staff is happy, but also the management, because regular guests bring good money with little marketing effort.

Often I have succeeded well, and the feedback from guests and colleagues have confirmed me with that. Unfortunately, there was in the hotel apart from all the good mood – not just according to my perception – a culture of grumping and moaning, characterized by low appreciation and many conflicts. To shield this from the guests, can be quite exhausting, and was in the end the reason for me move on. (but more on that in a later article).

In any case it take with me the idea to focus more on these aspects of flow and joy.  And for me, this idea also connects to a statement from the Bhagavagita, which provides, in substance, that one should do the work, but not attach to its fruits. This could be interpreted in a way that the activity itself is the value, and should be done with appropriate devotion. But I will think about it in peace during the next stage of my journey – when I go to Spain where I want to go a little deeper in my studies.

In the next part of this series of articles I am goig to continue  with reflections on hotel and family. Soon.

Working in the hotel (1) – the highlights

Coastal walk – the first highlight- Sunrise on the Bay of Adrasan

So many years I worked around this huge theme tourism – in applied research, as a project manager for education, public relations and regional development projects around the topic of social and environmental friendl tourism, and finally as an event manager for a major European conference. In parallel, always traveling a lot, experiencing with the lenses of a tourism expert- always a professional look. And yet all these years – I have always seen hotels as a guest and  never from the inside, from the side of those working in a hotel. When I got the opportunity last spring, to work in a small hotel on the Lycian coast (Turkey) and to take part in the guest services, I could not help but accept.

Finally, I worked three months in the hotel and gained an incredible amount of experience. A small selection of which I will present in a small series of articles. And the beginning – what could be more appropriate – are my personal highlights.
So many nice guests

The very best in the work was the direct contact with guests, mostly pleasant and intelligent guests. Many more women than men who came with a common desire: Once just relax for a few days only. It was always a pleasure to see the guest releasing more and more  from day to day, as they discovered the yoga, the sea, the nature, but also te contact with fellow travelers as a source of relaxation and inspiration. Many wept at parting, and said they had never relaxed so quickly and so well.

küstenwanderung

Coastal walk – later just sit and watch

First steps in burn-out prevention

I also had the opportunity make my the first steps in the field of burn-out prevention. Once a week there was a short introduction and later sometimes a mini-workshop, when there was more interest. The feedback was really positive and I was very encouraged to continue working in this direction. At the same time I also see the difficulty to deal with such a heavy topic during holidays. Many guests contacted me almost apologetically, pointing out that they actually desperately need input in this area, but could not motivate themselves to join, as they just wanted to relax in this short week and not to deal with problems. Of course I fully understood that.

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Look – at the sea and more…

Once a week – coastal walk (including sunrise)

And then I could even do a weekly excursion – and that was a special joy. A morning walk, first to see the sunrise on the beach and then along the coast to the point where you see a small lighthouse and a lot of sea. Over time, I’ve adapted it and made it into a photo walk. With inputs how to arrange pictures and  peppered with thoughts about photography. The glowing eyes of the participants after these walks along a really beautiful coastline will stay with me for a longer time.

Yes – I had some really good experiences. But working in the hotel also helped me to gain some new insights – but more on that next time

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A former restaurant at the roadside – Ulupinar

Ulupinar is a small village on the coast road south of Antalya, which is primarily known for its trout restaurants. Whole  buses come here in the hot summer months – in the shade of the forest and the cool air of the water streams, it is probably one of the best places to be in the scorching summer heat to cool a bit.

Most restaurants are huge, and on designed for large groups that are brought up from the nearby resorts Kemer, Camyuva and Tekirova. In some of them tourists can even fish their own trout from the creek.

When we recently went by car to this place, however, I noticed a really nice house- a restaurant closed for some time. Really a pity – a nice shady garden, and stone house with a fireplace and wooden windows – now it rots. As a photo opportunity, it is  beautiful – see for yourself:

 

Unbenannt

Unbenannt

Unbenannt

Unbenannt

Arykanda – a Lycian city in the mountais

“The residents of Arykanda must have been happy people”, it comes to my mind while I am standing in Arykanda high on the mountain in the old amphitheater and admire the view. I imagine how the spectators did not know around 2000 years ago, if they want to look at the spectacle or at the view – and at night the stars.

In general the remaining ruins of this Lycian city are not a sign of poverty. Town houses, a political and commercial Agora, spas, baths, a stadium etc. The residents of Arykanda should also have been extravagant, but it seems they were able to refill the city coffers with trading revenues.

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There’s not much left and some can only be guessed, and yet – or perhaps for this reason – the place radiates its very own magic. The very picturesque ruins, surrounded by overgrown trees and bushes, on a sunny western slope at lofty heights just before Elmali where the houses nestle along the slope upward. The breathtaking views – best from the theater (see above).

 

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Interesting which buildings are located at the top of the slope. Not only the previously mentioned amphitheater but also the shopping mile, twelve square scale businesses opening to a beautiful place with – of course – an amazing view. But why are these shops at the top?Isn’t it tedious to bring all the goods upon delivery all the way up. On the other hand, next to the shops, the Town Hall (the ancient Greeks said Bouleiterion) – is then also convenient for the business men, as they have a very short way to the meeting room, after having closed their shops.

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We spend several hours there on a November day and stroll through time – nothing disturbs the peace, and I take pictures with joy and passion … when I suddenly see three soldiers in full gear and with guns on the seats of the theater . Shortly my heart slips into my boots and I take the camera aside. But probably they just want to make a short break and enjoy the view, as they are leaving just a few minutes later. Then there is again silence, and this unique atmosphere – which is going to stay with me for a while.

 

 

Tips

 

  • Plan enough time: Especially here it would be a pity just to tick off the attractions. The view and enchanted site invite you just to follow you nose and or to stay somewhere for a short break.
  • Time of the day: During the hot season (ie mid-June to mid-September), the midday should be avoided. Too hot and the photos will not be pretty. Best in the late afternoon to come and don’t forget to enjoy the evening light.
  • Equipment:a bit firmer shoes (eg trekking sandals) increase the fun factor while climbing and straying significantly. Water and something to snack as well.
  • I say it reluctantly, but Lycia is generally best reached by car . According to my information there are Dolmus from Kumluca and Finike(dolmus to Elmali). From the turnoff to Arykanda there are just a few hundred meters to the excavations. There’s also a guesthouse at this junction, which from the outside looks very charming.
  • And last but not least : The small waterfall almost directly on the street, a few meters after the junction to Arykanda. Here there are not only tons of great-tasting spring water (take your bottles!), but also a small Lokanta with delicious food, fresh grilled corn to take away, and a small bazar with the savory aplles from Elmali – Do not miss .

     

    And here’s a little slideshow. with some more pictures Enjoy!

     

     

Autumn at the Lycian Coast

The words for spring and autumn are very similar in Turkish. Spring is in the second quarter of the year from March to June is Ilk bahar – translated the first spring. When there is fall in Europal, there is Son Bahar in Turkey – the later spring. And it is true – while  the landscape became drier and drier over the sommermonths, the grass and the flowers slowly disappeared – now everything is thriving again. Green meadows lie down on the soils which are  becoming slowly wet, and wetter, and all sorts of autumn flowers make the landscape colorful  again.

At the same time, the days are getting shorter, the nights are fresh and now and then it rains cats and dogs for a few days. In the little wooden house where I live, we make ourselves ready for the winter slowly. Wood has been delivered, the thin wooden walls are covered with carpets and and the roofs and open terraces isolated with plastic sheets. And I’ve moved – from an airy tree house in the height I am now resettled in a  wooden hut nearer to the earth and better isolated- which improves the stability of my body heat considerably. That was necessary, as I did not fully realize how much I was freezing up there. Now I live not only warmer but also a drier.

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The inside life of my little hut

Yes, I had underestimated the cold. This may sound strange, as the temperatures are of course considerably higher than in Central Europe. The difference is probably the strength of the sun – if it shines. Then the few remaining guests and locals flock to the beach or out in the mountains and they really search for the sun – quite the opposite from the summer. A kind of inward warming up before shadows and the cold are coming around 4:00pm. To live closer to nature, means also to be more exposed to the cold. Then the warmth is all the more pleasant – at niche camp fires, or at the great designed fireplaces design in the very few still open restaurants where every evening brings together a round of people and to warm themselves.

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Afternoon lightgames at the beach of Cirali

My (for now) last month in Turkey is breaking and I am looking forward to more walks along the beach or in the mountains, wthe just starting mandarin and orange season (a taste explosion – I think I’m forever spoiled for citrus fruits purchased in Austria) and cozy soup cooking evenings by the warm stove, which is lined with thick pieces of wood. And the cold – yes, you have to outsmart it each day with a piece of the action ….

Pomegranate time

 

Finally - the pomegranates are ripe

Greetings from the Lycian coast in Turkey.

Since I’ve been here in April for the first time this year (In total I’ve been in Turkey now for over four months) I look forward to the pomegranates. In spring, I admired the white flowers, and over the summer I could observe as the fruit slowly increased in size and color. Now they are finally ready and can be seen everywhere. On the trees, the markets or from the small traveling grocers. In many places, there is now the first fresh juice that is so intense that it’s clearly better to mix it with water or orange juice. And the almost black syrupy pomegranate vinegar is cooked all over. This fruit and its products have a taste and color explosion – a sheer delight.

 

And in the event that I ever find out how these little seeds can be brought out of the shell in a timesaving way, I am going to play around with it – maybe a pomegranate or orange marmalade or this great Persian meat dish with walnuts and pomegranate – yummie

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